If you’re looking for something different to do during the summer break, you might want to come and see The Causeway. This new production from theatre company Damn Cheek is deeply rooted in our North East history.
The Lindisfarne Gospels
The plot is around the Lindisfarne Gospels, copied and illustrated over a thousand years ago by monks on Holy Island off the Northumberland coast. And for four months this autumn, the Gospels are coming home – on display in the Laing Gallery Newcastle.
The Causeway show tells how the Gospels came to be created by the monks – who were then hounded off Holy Island and across ‘the causeway’ to find refuge in mainland North East, bringing with them the wonderful legacy of the Gospels. The show then fast-forwards the monks’ story into today’s world and to the legacy all of us can leave as we live kindly, caring for others and for the world.
Serious messages! But don’t think for one moment that the show won’t be fun!
High energy family-friendly show
As Darren Cheek, Artistic Director of The Causeway, explains:
“We’re bringing a high-energy, family-friendly production, full of storytelling, music, singing, art, puppetry, food, dance and audience participation. Whatever age you are, you’ll find something to enjoy…and something to make you think!”
Damn Cheek Theatre already has a track record of bringing fun shows from their base in London up to the North East. Their 2021 Felling-based production of Passion for the Planet covered the theme of climate change. Then in February of this year the company toured 11 local schools with Monday’s Child, a project to help primary pupils understand the challenges of older age memory loss. Damn Cheek loves coming to Newcastle and Gateshead and now the team is back to do The Causeway.
Arts funding is difficult to come by
It hasn’t been an easy ride making the show happen. Arts funding, particularly in the current political climate – is hard to come by. Darren says:
“Raising funds for this project has been tricky to say the least. But we’re busy finding creative solutions. And we’ve had so much proactive support from the community. We now feel part of the Felling family!”
This idea of family is reflected in the way Damn Cheek creates their productions:
“Unlike many professional theatre companies, we don’t perform ‘at’ an audience, we perform ‘with’ them. Passion for the Planet drew on the artistic talent and energy of over 400 local community members – and for The Causeway we’ll probably top that number!”
So Damn Cheek has been working for almost a year now with local organisations, churches and charities to prepare the final production of The Causeway. Over the summer term they’ve been into local schools to help children create art work for the shows. They’ve mentored Newcastle College students to develop their creative talents. They’ve run ‘making workshops’ where adults and children from the broader community create puppets, scenery, costumes and installations. AgeUK Gateshead has helped give older people a role in the production. Local singers are performing. And the front-of-house crew includes many community volunteers. Throughout, everyone involved has contributed their own stories about the idea of ‘legacy’ and what we ourselves can leave behind.
Now, as Damn Cheek Theatre and the local communities put the finishing touches to The Causeway, it’s clear how much hard work, effort and commitment has already gone into the project. And it’s nearly time to raise the curtain on this wonderful collaboration.
As Darren says “We’re ready to go! We’re just waiting for you… the audience…to join us!”
The Causeway performances run twice a day from 12 to 20 August 2.30pm and 7.00pm at Christ Church, Carlisle Street, Felling, NE10 0HQ. You can buy tickets from www.ticketsouce.co.uk tel 07956 891110